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Winter Scene: Drawing and Painting lesson

Looking for an easy drawing and painting lesson with a high success rate? Try this one. Even in California, most kids equate January with cold weather. I talk about how snowflakes flutter down from the sky and land in the folds of trees, forming clumps of snow. In first grade, we stick to the lovely aspects of snow. I don’t mention how hard it is to dig out from under five feet of compacted snow. To prove that snow is indeed lovely, I have lots of beautiful calendar pictures of hand.

For each student, you will need:

  • 1 sheet of 12″ x 18″ blue construction paper
  • 1 black oil pastel and 1 brown oil pastel
  • shared tray of watered down (just a bit) of white tempera paint and brushes
  • small container of red tempera paint (shared)


Drawing the tree. I discuss how the trunk is thick on the bottom and as the tree grows and gets higher, the branches get small and thinner. I encourage the kids to think of the tree as an upside down “Y”. I demonstrate how to add branches with the oil pastel, concentrating on making the branches narrower as they grow away from the trunk.
Next, have the student’s create “bark” by using either the black or brown oil pastel.

Adding the snow. With a small paintbrush, have the students paint big swathes of white paint across the bottom of the paper, going right over the tree trunk. The kids can go up as high as they want, making sure that at least half of the tree is exposed. Next, have the student’s paint small clumps of “snow” in the pockets of the tree branches.

Adding a red highlight. I ask the kids to paint something red on their picture. It could be a scarf for a snowman, a red fox, a cardinal, whatever they want. I resist the urge to show them a sample, because this tends to sway them into what to paint. Have the kids use their imaginations as much as possible. Although, if Ashley draws a fox, you can bet the girl next to her will as well. That’s just the way it goes!

Now for the FUN part…adding snowflakes. My technique for splatter painting is to use a medium sized brush, dipped in white paint. Then, holding it about 2″ above the painting, tap with a finger. Many art teachers use toothbrushes, but I find the spray is too small and can be difficult for little fingers to manage.
Just a big dollop of white paint and a good tap should yield enough snowflakes to satisfy first graders.


  1. I know what you mean. At my art lesson yesterday(your wild hair portraits, by the way) all the boys at the same table added Raiders insignia’s to their pieces!

    Ms. Julie's Place

    January 22, 2009

  2. My first graders made the winter scene (oil pastels and paint) for parent presents this year. Every one of them turned out FANTASTIC! I can't wait to hear the comments from the parents when they open their gifts!


    December 18, 2009

  3. Loved this one! Did it with my granddaughter and it turned out so pretty. I had it reduced and printed for her valentine, glued on red cardstock. Thank you again for a lovely project!


    February 21, 2010

  4. I truly love doing the trees with kids and the sculpture that the tree creates. They love splattering paint and using a toothbrush to do it. Thank you for sharing your renditions.


    December 18, 2010

  5. Thanks for sharing. I can wait to get on your mailing list. I also love that you use quality art materials for young children.

    Chandi Holliman

    December 24, 2010

  6. I’m going to try this “winter scene” lesson as my last project before the holiday season. I’ve been looking for a holiday project for first graders that’s not too crafty or holiday specific. I love the idea of using blue paper and adding a touch of red. I can’t wait to see how they all turn out!

    M White

    October 19, 2011

  7. I am currently teaching Grade 5/6 art and am always looking for ideas. Thanks

    Shelley Budgen

    November 18, 2012

  8. We made these today. I was skeptical but they turned out adorable.


    January 6, 2014


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